As the world's largest koala sanctuary with over 130 koalas, Lone Pine is one of the best places to be guaranteed to get up close to lots of koalas, including joeys. The enclosures have low walls and no fencing so there are great viewing and photo opportunities. You can ask to hold a koala for free, or for an extra $15 you can cuddle a koala and take home a souvenir photo. Although this feels very commercial, the proceeds go towards building new enclosures and eucalyptus plantations. There is also a gift shop where the enthusiast can pick up a wide range of koala-themed goodies. The sanctuary is stroller and wheelchair friendly and there are plenty of areas to have a picnic lunch.
Fifteen kilometres South East of the CBD, Brisbane Koala Bushland is a beautiful place to walk and try your luck at finding a koala in the wild. Whilst the animals are seemingly elusive, I can vouch for their presence here. I was lucky enough to chance upon a 'rescue' last year, where I watched rangers climb a tree to capture a koala which needed to be tagged and tested for chlamydia (a problematic disease for our furry friends) before release. The 1.4 km Stockyard Creek walking circuit through eucalypt forest is well worth the trip, even if you don't have success spotting a koala. The walk is stroller and wheelchair friendly and has electric BBQs by the entrance.
Twenty-five kilometres South of Brisbane, the Daisy Hill Koala Centre is a dedicated koala education facility. It's a great place to learn about koalas and to see three koalas in spacious enclosures. You can discover all about a koala's lifecycle and biology in the interactive exhibits and learn about their conservation in the bushcamp-themed theatre. There are also some great walks (some suitable for strollers and wheelchairs) around the surrounding Conservation Park. Best of all, entrance is free.
Opening hours: daily from 10am to 4pm (except Christmas Day, New Year's Day and Good Friday)
If you are also keen to see a wide range of other exotic animals (including a bear, camels, kangaroos and alpakas) as well as koalas then Alma Park Zoo is a good choice. Just 30 minutes drive from the CBD, the Zoo is well maintained with attractive enclosures and leafy walkways. Bargain hunters can often pick up half price entry vouchers on group buying sites or offers on the back of supermarket receipts.
Cost: $37 (adult)
Opening hours: 9am - 4pm (closed Christmas Day and shorter hours on Anzac Day)